About my Doctorate – Not that You Asked

I started my doctorate in the 1990s while I was deputy director at Box Hill Institute of TAFE but my PhD was NOT about TAFE. By the time I completed it, I was running my business and educational consultancy but my PhD was NOT about strategic planning, team building, policy or even business development. Nor was my doctorate about my true vocation, counselling and psychotherapy and if you’re prepared to read on, you’ll see why that’s the case.

Let me tell you the beautiful coincidence between the focus of my PhD and my post-doctoral study in counselling with Dr Robert McNeilly . The first of a number of my qualifications in counselling is called Diploma of Learning Solutions in Counselling . I’ve since completed other qualifications with Dr McNeilly, including a Diploma of Learning Solutions in Hypnosis.

So maybe you’ve guessed it! My doctorate by research was about one of my lifelong passions: an exploration of learning. How wonderfully synergistic to have found an approach to counselling that is, in essence, about learning. Having undertaken extensive research into the optimum conditions for learning and specifically for language learning to gain my PhD, I ended up re-training in counselling through an approach that recognises and values learning. Your learning and mine.

Working to gain any doctorate especially in philosophy is about clarity of purpose. It’s about hard work, focused endeavour, intellectual rigour and above all it’s about tenacity. Intrinsic to the award of a PhD is novelty. One must do as I did, one must contribute something new to the world’s knowledge bank. Something original. All of those elements of a PhD are foundational to my role in working with you. With me you’ll learn to see your agency in the things that are disturbing your peace. You’ll learn also to connect again to your strengths in order to resolve those problems.

A Little Bit More About My Background

In working with people with all sorts of major and not so major issues, I’ve learned that one approach will rarely be enough. My focus is on working together to create with you your unique solution to your equally unique problems.

I came to into this field – my true calling – after decades as a educationalist. I’ve taught every year level from Prep to Year 12 – the most challenging being Prep. I’m still recovering from two years in Prep in the 1970s. I’ve worked as a senior executive in the educational bureaucracy so believe me Yes Minister is a documentary. Along the path to my true vocation, I’ve been an advisor in policy at a statewide level to Ministers of Education (they kept changing in those days and they still do). It was exciting and satisfying to have an impact on things I felt needed changing but I say again, working one-on-one with my clients or with a couple or family, that more person-centred work is much more satisfying.

In my policy and planning role at Box Hill TAFE, I did a lot of work with schools and Universities to create a more seamless educational pathway to and from different sectors in education and to and from the workplace. After leaving TAFE in the late 1990s, I set up my business and educational consultancy so it wasn’t until my fifties that I found out what I really want to do when I grow up. Everything I’ve achieved in those other roles comes with me into our consultations. All my negotiation skills, my research skills, my creativity and my thirst for knowledge, it all comes with me to you in our consultations. The strongest foundation, the most important element in communication is listening, the quiet and elegant precursor to great interpersonal communication. Having undertaken extra courses in conflict resolution, I teach clients who wish to learn, how to use active listening as the tender and loving path back to harmonious relationships.

What really matters in therapy?

Dr McNeilly, a GP by training background, learned his counselling approach directly from Milton H Erickson. Dr Erickson is well known and respected for the gentle and respectful way he assumed that his clients could and would work with him to find their own unique solution to their problems. My orientation is Ericksonian but Dr McNeilly reminds his students about some very interesting research findings related different treatment modalities.  It seems that across all schools and practices of Psychology – Freudian, Jungian, Gestalt, Ericksonian, somatic and so on – across all of the therapeutic approaches used, the effect of the therapy accounted for 15% of the reason the client improved.

In other words, it’s important not to get too dogmatic about any one school of thought or therapeutic approach.  When people get better, 85% of the reason they get better or feel better is related to such things as:

  • Getting or losing their job
  • Divorcing or reconciling with their spouse
  • Giving birth to a child
  • The advent of Spring and lovely weather
  • Better eating and drinking regimen
  • Life in general

See this article for further details.  In that review of the book ”The Heart & Soul of Change: What Works in Therapy” edited by Mark A. Hubble, Barry L. Duncan, and Scott D. Miller you’ll notice that the greatest emphasis is placed on relationship – how the therapist and the client relate. How they learn together.  That’s certainly my primary focus.

Anxiety Treatment

I specialise in anxiety treatment as well as in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). For many years, I’ve worked with people who have anxiety in all its many forms – fear, worry and apprehension that disrupts their enjoyment of life. Anxiety that makes them think twice about going to concerts, speaking up at work, travelling on trains, driving on freeways. My anxiety treatment includes helping you to overcome your public speaking anxiety.

I also offer help and support to people who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder BPD. I treat each person who has BPD as a unique individual – as I should. I use dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), combined with cognitive behaviour therapy as well as a range of other approaches.

I can help you to find your unique solution to your problems. Through my practice in Yarraville I offer:

  • FREE initial 15 minute consultation by phone
  • Concessional fees for people on low-incomes
  • Sessions outside 9-5 and on Saturday.
  • Phone sessions by Skype

Do you have any questions? Would you like to schedule your first FREE 15 MINUTE consultation by phone?

  • Call me now on (03)687 2083.
  • Send me an email – jkavanagh@iinet.net.au

    Do you have any questions? To schedule your first FREE 15 MINUTE consultation call me now, or send me an email.

    Address: 70 Somerville Road (in the little slip road between Gamon and Tongue Streets) YARRAVILLE 3013
    T: (03) 9687 2083 M: 0417 379 684
    E: jkavanagh@iinet.net.au

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